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The Upper Valley Community Band

The origins of the "community band" has a long history in the Upper Valley dating back to the 1860s. The first band was the Norwich Militia Band, which began during the Civil War and was made up of cadets from the Norwich Military Academy. The band was formed to play at patriotic functions and parades. When the Academy moved to Northfield, VT, the band moved with it. In the spirit of the Militia Band, a new band was formed in Norwich in June of 1914. The band was sponsored by the local YMCA. This hearty group of local male musicians kept the band going each summer, playing for the Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades, and offering a series of summer concerts on the Green. They also played for political rallies, but only for candidates of their choice. Members of the original 1914 band read like a who’s who of Norwich, and included Fred Metcalf, Don Bridgman, Charles Huntley, Dean Merrill, and Dale and JH Nelson. With the advent of gas rationing in the 1940s the band ended its traveling ways and years of performance.  

In 1970  the Hanover–Norwich  Band was organized  under the direction of George Black, band director of Hanover High School. He was followed by Cynthia Boehm Patenaude, then a newly graduated high School senior from Mascoma High School. In the 1980's, Eric Anderson of Hartford High School, took over the reins of the band. In the 70's and early 80's. the band was strictly a summer organization  playing bi-weekly concerts on the lawn of Dartmouth Hall and on the bandstand in Norwich, and continued to march for the Norwich Fair and the Shrine Game parades.   Under the leadership of Dan Downes, beginning in 1984, the band’s year expanded to include a winter schedule of rehearsals and concerts at the Lebanon Opera House.

In 1990 Carole I. Blake music teacher at Mascoma High School assumed the position of musical director of the band. That same year the name of the band was changed from the Hanover–Norwich Band to the Upper Valley Community Band to more accurately reflect the “home towns” of its members. Becky Luce, music teacher at the Ray School in Hanover, became the director in January of 2014. There are three members of the band who have been active since the 1970 reincarnation: Willy Black, Kit Griggs, and Elisa Rice.   

The word “community” in the band's name  is self-explanatory—everyone in the Upper Valley community is invited to play. To participate in the band, one should be able to read music and have command of their instrument. The band’s normal activities include parades, concerts, patriotic, and seasonal events throughout the year. Currently there are 70+ active musicians in the UVCB.  

In 1994, the band was honored with the opportunity to perform at the annual convention of the Association of Concert Bands in Burlington, VT. In addition, the UVCB has performed at the Boston Festival of Bands (an invitation-only event), held each year the first Saturday in June. Sponsored by the Metropolitan Wind Symphony, this event features bands from all over the northeast.

A noteworthy event in the UVCB’s history was the musical/cultural exchange with the Town Band of Heimsheim, Germany (Musikverein Stadtkapelle Heimsheim). This joint venture titled Hands Across the Sea, took place in May of 1997. The Town Band of Heimsheim came to the Upper Valley and performed a joint concert with the UVCB at the Lebanon Opera House. In June of 1999 the UVCB, after a tour of southern Austria and southern Germany, went to Heimsheim and joined the MVSH in concert, proudly representing the Upper Valley.

In October of 2001, the band had the distinct pleasure of representing New Hampshire and Vermont in concert at the National Festival of the States, an official celebration of the 225th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Traveling to Washington, D.C., the band presented three concerts at different venues in the city, and toured our nation’s capital. And... in September 2007 many members of the UVCB flew to Joigny, France, to participate in an international music festival. In March of 2013 the band had the distinct privilege of performing for Farmers’ Night at the Vermont State House.

The band looks forward to seeing you during the summer and at our major concerts. The UVCB is proud to be a part of the musical heritage of the Upper Valley.

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The Upper Valley Community Band is a 501(C)(3) organization

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13 Apr 2014

UVCB Webmeister: John S. Erickson

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